InnovaFeed opens biggest insect protein plant globally, secures €140m in funds, and partners with ADM to build US site

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

InnovaFeed's new BSF protein production plant, located in Nesle in northern France, is now operational.  © InnovaFeed
InnovaFeed's new BSF protein production plant, located in Nesle in northern France, is now operational. © InnovaFeed

Related tags black soldier fly larvae Adm Cargill Auchan Insect

Insect protein producer, InnovaFeed, has announced the opening of its insect protein production site in the north of France, it has also closed a new €140M (US$166M) fundraising effort to accelerate its domestic and international expansion strategy, while inking a deal with ADM to build a US facility.

Less than 18 months after the laying of the first stone, InnovaFeed said its Black Soldier Fly (BSF) derived protein production plant in Nesle, a commune in the Somme department in northern France, is now operational.  

“With a capacity of 15,000 tons of insect protein, the Nesle site becomes the world's largest operating production unit, which will ultimately feed the equivalent of 400,000 tons of fish, poultry and pigs a year.” 

bsf larvae
BSF larvae © InnovaFeed

InnovaFeed was only established in 2016; it began pilot production in 2017.

The Nesle plant sees disruptive technology in play that combines robotics and artificial intelligence. “In total, more than 3,000 sensors associated with the optical counting systems developed in-house by InnovaFeed make it possible to optimize and monitor at all times the rearing conditions of the 20,000 eggs collected every second.”

Beyond its “unprecedented capacity and technological sophistication",​ the company said the new site stands out for its environmental performance.

Its design is centered around a model of industrial symbiosis with its industrial partners, allowing a 100% circular production which saves 57,000T of CO2 every year. This model makes the Nesle site the most environmentally efficient in the world, reducing CO2 emissions by more than 80% compared to other existing models - according to the LCA study carried out by independent experts, Quantis.”

InnovaFeed said it wants to contribute to the revitalization of the region where the plant is located, with it set to create 100 jobs in the area to support the new facility.

Financing boost 

Half of the €140M raised in the latest funding round is equity; it brings the total financing​ the French company has secured to €200M since its foundation.

Existing shareholders, Creadev and Temasek, participated in the late fundraising effort:

"We believe in the economic and societal potential of the insect in the agro-food sector. After studying all the players in the sector, InnovaFeed appeared, in 2018, as the most technologically advanced player with the most efficient products on the market. Over the past months, the commissioning of the Nesle site and the signing of contracts with players such as Cargill and Italpollina have confirmed this potential. We are therefore delighted to reinvest in the project today to deploy this technology globally,"​ said Jean-Baptiste Bachelerie, Creadev Deputy CEO

The funds will contribute to the future development projects of InnovaFeed in France, but also internationally, with the construction of new sites planned in South-East Asia, and more imminently in the US, said the French innovator. 

Insect fed trout brand sold in Auchan supermarkets in France © InnovaFeed

Partnership with ADM 

InnovaFeed’s new partnership with Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) will see it deploy its industrial model at what is the largest corn processing site in the world - in Decatur in Illinois. Construction will begin in 2021 and the partners are targeting a production capacity of 60,000 tons of insect protein per year.

ADM Decatur's corn-based byproducts will be locally upcycled to feed insects, directly conveyed through infrastructure connecting both companies. InnovaFeed said this production model will also allow it to use 27MW of residual energy recovered from the ADM process, energy that was not previously recovered. 

“At a time when the demand for animal feed protein is steadily increasing, insect farming stands out as a true solution for the future,”​ said Chris Cuddy, ADM senior vice president and president of the company’s carbohydrate solutions business.

“We’re excited to work with InnovaFeed on this ambitious project. It’s a great demonstration of how ADM is expanding its value chain by offering opportunities for collaboration to leading, innovative companies," ​he added.

InnovaFeed is also announcing a tie-up today with Barentz, with the partners launching a pet food product that includes insect ingredients.

Despite it only getting off the ground four years ago, the French player has forged commercial partnerships with Cargill​ and Italpollina.

The last few years have also seen it develop a strategic partnership with leading French retailer, Auchan​, with that alliance producing the world’s first ‘insect-fed’ trout value chain, and, subsequently a poultry range using insect derived oil.

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